BUENOS AIRES—Most Americans haven't had to deal with the fucked-up legal gyrations transgendered people have to go through just to match up their mental and physical gender identities with what the states and feds think those identities are, based on their birth certificates. Yes, the situation is getting better, but it's far from perfect.
But down in Argentina, where many adult TS movies are shot, changing one's gender identity couldn't be simpler, thanks to a new law passed unanimously by the Argentine legislature and expected to be signed by President Cristina Fernandez.
The law, which passed 55-0, allows trans people—even those who haven't had gender reassignment surgery and don't plan to—to change their gender status without the necessity of getting a note from the doctor or approval of a judge.
According to an article on feministing.com, "in most places in the world—and in the U.S.—trans people must show proof of a medical diagnosis and often major interventions, like surgery or hormone therapy, before they can get that legal recognition. (For example, in 17 European countries, trans people have to be willing to be sterilized just to change their ID.) It’s a hurdle that many people can’t—or simply don’t want to—jump."
But once the new law takes effect, Argentinians will be allowed to change their gender in all legal documents as well as how they're officially listed in the civil registry without a single hormone shot, a single surgical procedure, or any psychiatric diagnosis.
Moreover, any adult who wants to change their physical gender either through surgery or hormone replacement will be able to do so as part of their public or private healthcare policies without incurring additional out-of-plan charges for the treatments.
"It's saying you can change your gender legally without having to change your body at all. That's unheard of," Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford University medical anthropologist and bioethicist who's written about gender identity issues, told the Associated Press. "There's a whole set of medical criteria that people have to meet to change their gender in the U.S., and meanwhile this law gives the individual an extraordinary amount of authority for how they want to live. It's really incredible."
"It's something humiliating ... many of us have had to endure psychiatric and physical tests," said Marcela Romero, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in the mid-'80s but spent 10 years trying to get an identity card that said "female." "With this law we'll no longer have to go through this."
And it's not just adults: Even minors who want to switch gender identities will be able to do so as long as their legal guardians approve—but if they don't, the kids can go to court and have a judge order the change, even if the parents/guardians oppose it.
Karkazis doesn't see a huge rush of gender reassignments once the law is approved.
"This isn’t going to create a huge demand on the national health system for these procedures," she said. "They’re difficult, painful, irreversible. And this is why many people don’t do it."
Guess who's against it?
"We have found ourselves faced with the most permissive law in the world in this area," warned Nicolas Lafferriere, director of the Catholic Church-sponsored Center for Bioethics, Personhood and Family. "Now, to change all the civil registries you don't need any more justification than a personal desire, based on someone's self-perception. It won't be easy to predict the consequences."
One Argentine politician didn't find that so difficult.
"This is truly a human right: the right to happiness," said Sen. Miguel Pichetto during the debate over the legislation.
Pictured, l-r: 2012 Tranny Awards guests Acadia Veneer, Jesse Flores and Jenna, courtesy of Rick Garcia/EMMreport.com